A top trailer maker has branched out to help deliver the iconic Christmas tree which stands outside 10 Downing Street.
A sturdy 18ft flatbed trailer made by Ifor Williams Trailers was used to transport the splendid 22 foot Nordmann Fir from its grower in Herefordshire to the Prime Minister’s official residence in London.
There the highly decorated tree will become an integral feature of Christmas news bulletins, standing guard alongside the on-duty police officer.
The supplier of the tree was chosen in a hotly-contested competition run by the British Christmas Tree Growers’ Association earlier this year.
After beating off stiff opposition from around 100 of its members, Dinmore Hill Trees at Festive Farm, Wellington, in Herefordshire, was named winner of the prestigious Champion Tree category.
And when owners Colin and Davina Griffith realised they didn’t have a trailer large enough to transport the tree safely and comfortably down to London they turned for help to their local Ifor Williams Trailers distributor, Morris Bufton & Co Ltd, based at Ludlow in Shropshire.
The Griffiths drove their precious load down to London overnight in time for the tree to light up Prime Minister David Cameron’s seasonal festivities.
For Christmas Tree growers the length and breadth of the UK, the competition run by their national association is the single most important honour of the year.
The aim is to have contenders showcase their trees to expert growers and be judged by fellow members.
Andrew Reece-Jones, the Design Engineering Manager at Ifor Williams Trailers, said: “We’re delighted that one of our trailers is being used to transport such an iconic Christmas tree.
“I’m sure our trailers will be used yet again this year to carry many, many Christmas trees but the Downing Street tree is undoubtedly the most famous of them.
“We’re looking forward to seeing it on television between now and the end of the festive season.”
Around 100 growers took part this year and each spent around 10 years nurturing their tree to full competition height in categories including Best Nordmann, Best Other Fir, Best Pine, Best Norway Spruce, Best Other Spruce, Best Container Grown, and Best Festive Wreath.
Colin and Davina Griffith topped the Norway Spruce class with a tree of just over six feet tall, qualifying them for the star prize of providing the Downing Street tree – the second time they have taken the honour in seven years.
Davina said: “The competition is fiercely contested by growers from right across Britain and I’m delighted to say that we won with our Norway Spruce, which is actually the most popular type of Christmas tree with our customers.
“It’s a great honour to be supplying the tree for Downing Street, which had been growing for about 25 years, and millions of people in Britain and around the world will see it during the weeks it is there.
“All the trailers we use are supplied by Ifor Williams Trailer because we wouldn’t have anything else but although we had just bought a new 16ft flatbed towing trailer from Morris Bufton & Co Ltd, it wasn’t quite long enough for the Downing Street tree, so we asked John Bufton there what he could do to help.
“John very kindly offered to loan us the 18ft flatbed, which will make the whole operation much safer and more comfortable.
“Davina added: “This is the second time we’ve won the competition and been chosen to supply the Downing Street tree. We did it first in 2007 and for a relatively small grower like ourselves to win twice is an amazing thing.
“Colin and I are certainly very grateful to John Bufton for agreeing to loan us the trailer – it’s been a real godsend.
“The first time we won seven years we were able to go inside Number 10 for coffee after we’d delivered the tree and we’re hoping to do the same with David Cameron this time.”
John Bufton of Morris Bufton & Co Ltd said: “We had just supplied the Griffiths with a 16ft trailer which wasn’t large enough to properly do the job of transporting the tree to Downing Street, so I offered them the loan of one of our 18ft tri-axle trailers to do it with.
“We are delighted to have been of assistance as we do as much as we can to help all our customers, especially with something as high profile as this.
“We’ve been in business since my father Sydney Bufton and his partner Leslie T Morris started the company in 1954.
“We’ve been an official distributor for Ifor Williams Trailers for the past 45 years and at our four-acre site in the middle of Ludlow we stock about 80 to 100 of their trailers. These include everything from flatbeds of 8ft up to 18ft plus horse trailers and box vans, all with full spares and service back-up.
“We supply mainly to the local agricultural and horticultural trades and it’s a real family business. I followed my father into the company. I’m 68 now and have worked here since I left school.”
The Griffiths moved to Dinmore Hill in 1989 after previously running a market garden.
After successfully selling a small number of Christmas trees from the side of the road they took the decision to turn the whole site over to their production.
Their success rapidly grew to the point where they now sell about 3,000 trees a year, mainly during their busy period of November and December.
Harry Brightwell, secretary of the British Christmas Tree Growers’ Association, said: “We were thrilled with the standard of entries this year, and with the huge effort put in by such a large number of growers.
“The competition is taken very seriously by all members and the winners deserve huge applause for their achievement.
“We view the contest as a chance to recognise what incredible year-round work goes into being a Christmas tree farmer. Now we simply encourage all homeowners to consider a British grown tree for their seasonal celebrations this year.”